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BSI response to Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020

Hepatitis C virus

5 October 2020

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020 has been awarded to Harvey J. Alter (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA), Michael Houghton (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada) and Charles M. Rice (Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA) “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”. In response to this news, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement:


Professor Arne Akbar, President of British Society for Immunology, said:

“Hepatitis C is a liver disease that can cause serious and long-term illness in some individuals. With over 71 million people currently estimated to have the disease, it is a major global health concern on a par with tuberculosis and HIV.

“For a long-time, we did not know what the cause of this illness was. All that changed with research of Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice, whose meticulous work allowed us to identify the cause of this disease – an RNA virus called the Hepatitis C virus. Through their landmark efforts, these scientists have revolutionised this field of research and opened the door in allowing us to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics and preventative measures against Hepatitis C, bringing numerous benefits and even a cure to many millions of patients.

“This is a well-deserved Nobel Prize. I send my warm congratulations to the winners, and hope that all those who have contributed to creating this breakthrough will also celebrate the parts that they have played in transforming of our understanding of Hepatitis C.  This story should also provide with great hope that, through rigorous and meticulous research, we are able to better understand infectious diseases, leading to direct improvements in patient care.”


You can read more about the winners’ work on the Nobel Prize website.